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Tes

 


 

"Funny you're the broken one

But I'm the only one who needed saving"

 

 

Eddie never imagined going through a situation like this. 

For starters, when he came to Los Angeles, he didn't expect anything but to get a good job, and a good school for Christopher. 

He didn't plan on ending up in the 118, he didn't plan on putting down roots, and he didn't plan on Buck. 

On paper, his life in the sunny city was supposed to be simple and without any great accomplishments. 

How wrong he was about that!

As a soldier Eddie went through a lot, situations he wouldn't wish on his worst enemy, but none of it prepared him for being buried alive, it didn't prepare him for having his son and his best friend in a tsunami, it didn't prepare him for losing the mother of his child, it didn't prepare him for being shot again. 

And none of it prepared him to see Buck swept out to sea by a fireball. 

Eddie is not sure how he is supposed to feel, anger, pain, despair, loneliness, none of these can describe how he feels during the helicopter ride, the word that comes closest is emptiness. 

He feels a great emptiness, as if he is a robot programmed just to keep going, to keep working, to keep caring for the victims, as if his whole world is not falling apart, as if Buck is not dead. 

 


 

A quiet shift, a few simple medical calls, and then the alarm sounded louder than ever. 

Dispatch summoned five units of the fire department at once, a fire on an oil platform. 

Seven other units were already on the scene, the flames could be seen for miles from the accident site. 

Eddie was in charge of transporting the victims to the makeshift field hospital, he was working with a special rescue unit. 

On the ground Hen and a dozen other firefighter/paramedics were working on triage and treatment of the victims. 

Bobby and other coordinators followed with organizing efforts to get the flames contained. 

And Buck was there, right in the middle of the chaos, working with another dozen firefighters, who were divided between the evacuation of the platform and the actual containment of the flames and all the oil dumped overboard. 

And Eddie knew the statistics, he was trained for this, both in the army and at the academy before he became a fireman, he was a grown man, he knew how bad things could get fast, how calls like this resulted in casualties. No matter how much effort and manpower was involved, they couldn't save everyone. 

In fact, in calls like this, they acted mainly for damage containment, save as many people as possible, for as long as possible, the possibility of saving everyone was never offered. 

"This is your last rescue trip, we are starting the evacuation." Bobby's voice crackled over the radio." Let's get our men out of there." 

Eddie was not there to know why, but with each new trip men and women, members of the Los Angeles Fire Department, organized to get on the helicopter, but Buck's face was never seen, Eddie looked for him in the sea of people, but he never appeared.

With each new take-off Eddie's heart tightened a little more, and with each new landing his hope was renewed. 

Eddie will never be able to describe the feeling of peace he felt when, on his last trip, the image of Evan carrying a woman stood out in front of him. 

The man was tired and clearly physically exhausted, but he was alive and well. 

Ravi was following closely behind him, carrying an unconscious man. 

Two firemen. 

Buck would never, of course, leave anyone behind, two members of the fire department much less. 

Eddie watched Jackson, one of the rescuers in the helicopter, breathe a sigh of relief.  

As if he too was looking for someone. 

And for all things, for all the ignored feelings, for all the unspoken words, Eddie sympathized with the man. 

"Are you okay?" Eddie asked as soon as Evan climbed into the helicopter, after leaving his victim in the care of another paramedic. 

"My leg will complain for a few days, but I'm fine." Buck joked, although his face did not hide his fatigue. 

Eddie barely had time to respond, before the helicopter lost stability after another explosion took force. 

Eddie didn't realize until it was too late, one second Buck was sitting next to him, and the next second the fireman was being thrown out of the helicopter. 

He was not the only one, as the aircraft gradually lost all its stability, Ravi was also thrown. 

If it hadn't been for Buck, the boy would have found his way back to the sea. 

It was all too fast, before Eddie knew it, the helicopter had regained some of its stability. 

His hands worked faster than his brain, Ravi was pulled back and then, like a lull before the real storm, Eddie reached for Buck's hand, but before the grip could become firm enough another explosion caused the helicopter to rock aggressively, and Evan slipped from his grasp. 

Eddie watched as Buck was engulfed in fire, and if strong hands hadn't held his body, he probably would have followed Buck in his fall. 

Eddie watched as Buck fell to his death, he watched as realization hit Buck, he watched as surprise was replaced by acceptance, he watched as Buck's eyes closed before his body was consumed by smoke. 

He watched as his world fell apart, and he could do nothing but simply watch. 

And right in the midst of his helplessness, Eddie kept working, kept helping triage the victims, Eddie just kept going. 

Ignoring Hen's desperate cries, ignoring the image of his captain completely distraught. 

Eddie kept going like a machine, because he couldn't stop, he couldn't rest, because then he would remember the image of Evan falling, he would remember the acceptance in his eyes, and Eddie just couldn't handle it. 

He listened to the news, he followed the effort of the authorities so that the airspace near the crash site would be closed, so that not a single image would be released, so that the dignity of the victims would be preserved. 

So that there would be no images of the bodies floating on the high seas, so that the families of the victims would not have to deal with these images, so that mothers, sons, fathers, husbands and wives would not have to watch while the image of the body of a loved one was exploited by the vultures on duty. 

Eddie was not so lucky, because he was there, he watched as Buck fell, and this image would never be forgotten, this moment was etched in his brain with a hot iron. 

To rest, meant to have to face the consequences of this, and Eddie was simply not ready. 

He wasn't ready when the news broke that the search for the bodies would begin, he wasn't ready when the fire chief recommended that he stay away, he wasn't ready when Christopher cried in his lap, he wasn't ready when Maddie and Chiminey came back to town, he wasn't ready when Ravi was finally released from the hospital, he wasn't ready when Bobby had a relapse, he wasn't ready when Hen finally retired and started medical school for good, he wasn't ready when the news broke that the search was over. 

Buck's body was never found, and he wasn't ready to bury an empty coffin, he wasn't ready for all the condescension of the Buckley's at the wake, he wasn't ready to lose Evan. 

He just wasn't ready. 


Almost a month after the funeral, Christopher had reached his limit, the boy simply didn't know how to deal with the pain anymore. 

And Eddie was cruel enough to comfort his son, when he himself didn't know how to deal with the pain and all the other feelings he was feeling. 

Deep down, it was like that night was never over, it was like the sun would never rise again, it was like he was still stuck in that moment, it was like he was still watching Buck's body fall endlessly, and Eddie definitely didn't know how to deal with it.

No amount of therapy could take him out of that moment, no amount of witty talk about how Buck would like him to be happy could help with the pain in his heart, nothing could cover up Buck's absence in his life. 

Eddie kept waiting for the moment when the other shoe would drop, waiting for the moment when it would finally break, but that moment never came. 

Not when Bobby and Athena decided to leave Los Angeles, not when Maddie and Chiminey decided to pursue their separate lives, not when he was transferred. He watched his family suffer with the loss of Buck and he simply could not react. 

Maddie appeared on his doorstep exactly three months later, it was strange to find her there, he had lost communication with almost everyone - except Hen, who was still in Los Angeles, and kept his efforts to reach Eddie unperturbed - it had been a long time. 

He couldn't say it was an expected visit, or wanted one - Eddie had never found such similarities between the brothers, not until after the accident, and since then Maddie's every little action reflected Buck in some way, and Eddie didn't know how to handle it - the woman was very different, wearing light clothes, with a new haircut and a new color - a lighter brown, almost blonde - her eyes were so clear, Maddie was so well, or at least that's what she looked like, and Eddie wasn't ready to face that. He wasn't ready to face that people were ready to move on with their lives, because he wasn't ready yet. 

"Can I come in?" Maddie asked, as if this was her first time in Eddie's house. As if she was facing a stranger, and maybe she really was. 

"Sure." Eddie replied, leaving room for the woman to do so. 

Maddie didn't go much further than the hallway, she didn't ask for a drink, she didn't try to make herself comfortable in the house, and Eddie was strangely happy with that. 

Maddie didn't try to make things seem normal - as most people around Eddie insisted on doing - and Eddie appreciated that attitude. 

Because none of it was normal, none of it was okay, and Maddie was the first person who realized that. 

"I was packing up some things at my brother's apartment, the rent is due next week, and I found some things that I believe Evan would like for you to have." Maddie revealed, her voice meek and quiet." I have a box in the car, I can leave it in your garage, or you can pick it up at a storage facility later, whichever is best for you." 

Eddie looked out the window, gazing at the image of Buck's Jeep stopped at his curb, it was possible to recognize the existence of cardboard boxes inside the car, the scene bombarded tears in his eyes. Eddie had to look away to avoid another spiral of self-pity. 

In another time the image of the car standing outside, would have a very different, and infinitely happier meaning than the present one. 

"Right." Eddie replied with his arms crossed, hoping that this attitude alone would reveal his inability to welcome any of Buck's belongings into his home. 

"Okay." Maddie whispered understandingly." I'll forward an e-mail with the deposit address to you next week." 

"That would be nice." Eddie forced a smile. 

Eddie waited for the woman to finally go on her way, but Maddie remained still, almost as if she was gathering the courage to continue the conversation. 

"Hun..." Maddie cleared her throat before continuing. "Evan wrote that for Christopher." The woman revealed, holding out a small blue envelope to Eddie. 

Her gaze ran down the small envelope, before grasping at Buck's sloppy spelling.

 

Christopher 

 

"I'm not sure when he wrote it, but there are many, one for each of us." Maddie confided." I'm sending Bobby, Athenas and Chiminey's letters through the mail, I delivered Hen's letter this morning." 

Eddie reached out and took the envelope, feeling the texture of the paper in his hand, finally losing the battle against the tears, which were silently streaming down his face. 

"I don't..." Maddie choked, drawing Eddie's attention, for the first sign of emotional vulnerability Maddie let slip." I didn't find a letter to you, I believe he never had time to write, as far as I know the letter to our parents was half finished." 

It would be an understatement to say that this did not hurt Eddie deeply. It was selfish of him to resent Evan for never writing a letter to him - especially when it revealed that Buck hoped he could have more time - but that didn't stop the feeling from creeping through Eddie's veins. 

"I believe this may be important to Christopher, I know it was very important to me." 

"Thank you very much." Eddie said in a husky voice." That's important." 

Maddie did not try to console Eddie with witty words, did not try to make sense of Eddie's feelings. And again, Eddie found himself grateful for this, because he just needed to grieve a little, he needed to feel the loss of Buck, and he was tired of people telling him how he should feel. 

The woman said a quick good-bye, and Eddie watched from the window as the Jeep disappeared down the street. 

This was a difficult night, his Abuela walked Christopher home from school, and after dinner Eddie finally delivered Buck's letter to the boy. 

When Christopher asked, Eddie sat down on the floor beside his son's bed and read the letter, ignoring how each of those words cut a little deeper into his heart. 

He took Christopher into his lap as the child drowned in tears, he pulled himself together and accepted his Abuela's idea. 

Together they made camp in the garden under the stars and together they talked with Buck. 

Eddie lay under the stars, and listened as his son poured his heart out into the emptiness of the night, and fought with all his strength not to resent the courage his son had, to expose all his sorrows loud and clear. 

Eddie cradled Christopher in his sleep, and contemplated his own sadness until another day arose in the sky. 

 


 

Two months after Maddie's visit Eddie finds Taylor Kelly sitting on the front door steps. 

It is almost two in the morning, and Eddie is coming in from an exhausting shift at 132, he does not have the patience or strength to find a single reason for the woman's presence at his front door. 

"Taylor, what are you doing here?" Eddie asked in a tired voice. 

The woman stood up, and with an embarrassed smile, pulled a blue, crumpled envelope from her pocket. 

"That's yours." Taylor confessed." I didn't realize the importance of it until I received my own, so I just needed to come over here to give it to you and apologize." 

The bag Eddie was carrying slipped from his hands, he needed a minute for his vision not to be so clouded by tears, and then with trembling hands, Eddie opened the letter to read its contents. 

 

Eddie, 

 

I hope the day when you need to read this letter never comes, but if it does, know that I love you, and that I never planned for you to be in this situation. 

 

In my wildest dreams, my time comes with yours, and I hope that we can leave this world, together. 

 

It is a selfish thought, I know. 

 

Especially since leaving together means that Christopher will lose his father, but I can delude myself with the hope that our time will not come for many, many years. 

 

I can imagine the two of us, like grumpy old men in an old people's home, fighting over the last chocolate pudding - and I know how you hate pudding, but hopefully the years will redeem you - I can imagine how, one night, we will go to sleep, only to not wake up the next day. 

 

It is a beautiful sight. 

 

I'm sorry it didn't happen that way, I'm sorry I left you. 

 

I don't know about the development of our relationship, or if our relationship can be called that. 

 

I don't know if we are still just best friends, or something more, with a little hope, I hope that there is a "something more". 

 

But if I'm gone before my big break, I want you to know how much I loved you, how deeply I longed to become an official part of your family. How I spent shameful hours imagining how well our last names would look together. 

 

"Buckley-Diaz" 

 

You do realize the greatness of this, right? 

 

You and Christopher are a part of my heart, you taught me to be the man I am today and I can never thank you enough. 

 

I want you to know, that no matter where I go or where I am, I will always watch over you two. 

 

Even if my time has rushed, even if I have left this world long before you, be assured that wherever I am, I will be waiting for you, my love. 

 

This is not goodbye, just goodbye, 

 

Evan J. Buckley. 

 

"I woke up one night and found this hidden in a box in the kitchen cabinet." Taylor confessed, her voice filled with remorse." It still wasn't in the envelope, I shouldn't have, but curiosity spoke louder at the time.... I kept martyring myself for a few days over the contents of that letter and one day I just took it away, at first I just intended to throw it in the trash, then I kept it as a sad reminder that my relationship with Buck would never have a future." Taylor smiled mirthlessly." I can't tell if he noticed the absence of the letter, if he intended to write another one, but I..." 

"Taylor you need to leave." Eddie asked weakly, interrupting the apologetic speech, with no real strength to hold any dialogue with the woman standing on the balcony. 

"Eddie, I'm really sorry." Taylor pleaded, truly embarrassed. 

"I know that." Eddie sneered angrily." But I simply don't care." 

Eddie watched the woman nod and then leave. 

His house was empty inside, Christopher was on a three day trip to the Grand Canyon with his Boy Scout troop. 

Eddie was grateful for this, because as soon as the door closed behind him, he couldn't hold back the cry of anguish and grief that tore at his throat, he couldn't hold back the desperate cry, he collapsed on the floor of his front door, exactly seven months after Buck's death. 

He read and reread Buck's letter more times than he could remember, he drowned in tears, and he squirmed like a small child, and for the first time in seven months, Eddie allowed himself to mourn Buck's death.